Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date – Feburary 26, 2013
Publisher Website -  St Martin's Press/Raincoast Books Canada
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages - 325 pages
My Rating- 4/5
**borrowed from fellow blogger**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
Outcasts, romance, and mixed tapes. Eleanor and Park seems to have everything of a cute 80's romance movie. However, there is a dark undertone to this touching story about finding yourself, falling in love, and discovering things for the first time. 

The nostalgia factor is high for anyone who grew up in the 80's (or had a sibling who was a teen in the 80's). It creates a warm, fuzzy feeling that endeared me to the characters right away. I was heavily influenced by my older sister, as I was quite young in the 80's, so the feeling reminded me of growing up. It created instant familiarity. I think the themes in the story are timeless though, and will very much appeal to today's teens as well.

Rainbow Rowell's writing is full of heart. She infuses that into her characters. It's them that shine the brightest in this story. Every single amount of praise you've heard about Rainbow's writing is fully deserved, and I have  a feeling her fan base is only going to continue to grow as more books are released.

Mixed with the nostalgia of the 80's was reminder of being a teenager. It brought to mind whispered conversations on the phone with boys while I was babysitting, that initial intoxication of first love, and the rush of discovering yourself. It captures this part of a being a teenager effortlessly and in a way that I haven't felt in a book in a long time. It's the first time you felt that emotional 'click' with someone that understood you in a way that nobody had before.

A lot is made out of the fact that these two characters are not the typical of ones that you find in this genre. They are both awkward, outcasts, and different. If not for the fact that they share a seat together on the bus it's debatable whether or not they would have even interacted with each other in the first place. Coming together broadens their worlds and allows them to step into themselves in a way that they were scared of before. It puts them on a path to discover who they are, even if it's just in that moment.

I swooned at the adorable swap of mix tapes, and the tenderness in which Park cares for Eleanor. He is her rock in the chaotic mess that is her home life. Eleanor's living situation is heartbreaking, and intense. The story is darker than expected and portrays everything with a realism that is crushing. Park has his own issues with family, and his are dealt with with the same carefulness that Eleanor's situation is handled.

A great mixture of romance, humour, coming of age, and two outcasts helping each other and falling in love. While I may not have fangirled as hard as other reviews, this one is a more introspective, nostalgic read with characters who work their way into your heart.

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